ISLAMABAD: Food ministry on Monday decided to propose the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet to further increase wheat support price by Rs50 per 40 kilograms to give relief to the farmer community amid inclement weather.
Minister for National Food Security and Research Khusro Bakhtyar took the decision during a wheat review committee meeting to recommend to the ECC to approve increase of minimum support price for wheat crop 2019/20 to Rs1,400 from Rs1,365 per 40 kilograms.
In November last, the ECC increased wheat support price by Rs50. The increase was given after a five-year gap. In 2014, the government raised wheat support price by Rs100.
Federal and provincial secretaries, representatives of Pakistan Flour Mills Association, Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (Passco), wheat exporters and senior officials of the ministry of national food security and research attended the meeting.
The committee expressed satisfaction over wheat stock availability. It said there is 2.235 million tons of wheat available with the government in stocks to meet the country’s demand.
The committee was told that Sindh would start wheat procurement process from 15th March, whereas the Punjab is expected to begin procurement in April. The committee decided to recommend the ECC to let Khyber Pakhtunkhwa procure wheat from adjoining districts of the Punjab province.
The committee asked the provinces and Passco to timely meet wheat procurement target of 8.25 million tons. That includes procurement target of Passco (1.80 million tons), Punjab (4.50 million tons), Sindh (1.40 million tons), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (0.45 million tons) and Balochistan (0.10 million tons).
The committee further sought a ban on supply of wheat to poultry industry for feeding purposes in order to maintain sufficient wheat stock for human consumption. It was told that the State Bank of Pakistan might be asked to facilitate flour millers in financial matters in terms of procurement of wheat.
Representatives of Pakistan Meteorological Department said an expected inclement weather in the end of March is likely to adversely affect the standing wheat crop especially in the central Punjab.
Bakhtyar called for launching of an awareness campaign to prepare the farmers for taking timely measures. The minister directed Pakistan Standard and Quality Control Authority to use standardised wheat bags to reduce the wastage of wheat during transportation. “The government is taking measures to prevent hoarding of wheat in order to discourage profiteering,” he said.
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